Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

This book is a “teen” version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This one is written for teens, with age appropriate examples, jokes and illustrations.

Lately there is a lot of talk around Growth Mindset, and teaching 21st Century Learners, and I am all for it. I’ll be honest though, sometimes I’m a little overwhelmed when it comes to actually teaching these ideas. I find myself trying to come up with elaborate plans and activities. I started using the language in this book, and having students reflect on themselves and their lives. I noticed that their conversations about capabilities or even about their goals started to change.

This book was given to me by my principal, 2 years ago and I’ve used it with every class since. I found this helpful with Grade 8s, students on the Autism Spectrum and even Kindergartens and Grade 1s! The habits are clear and specific, but universal. For example; Habit 1 is ‘Be Proactive’. Certainly, it can be about starting things early, stopping things before they grow out of control or asking for help when you need it. It can also include realizing that you are only in control of you, no one else. Instead of reacting to someone else’s actions, you focus on your own.

I found a treasure trove of activities online that corresponded to the habits, all at different grade levels. I started in January (as an alternative to a ‘Resolution Making’ project) and  I could have carried through with them for the rest of the year. This, of course, did not solve every problem or engage every student in my class. It did add respectful and positive language to my classroom to give students a new and positive way of discussing things they wanted to change.

My two biggest takeaways from the book were these:

  1. A Habit is something you do repeatedly. They can be good habits, bad habits or habits that don’t really matter. You are in charge of your habits, and you can change them. I found this language to be really powerful (from K all the way to Grade 8). Rephrasing problematic tendencies (negative thinking, blaming others etc.) as habits meant that students have the power to change them.
  2. This was written for teens, however, there are habits that I also need to change and work on. The 7 habits are not particularly challenging but they do take work and planning. I often worked along with my students – making my own goals and plans and using them as examples. It reinforced how important it is to be willing to admit failings, try something new and to be open about feelings and concerns.

This seems to be more like a self-help or motivation book than a professional development one but I use it in class so much! I loved the way it targeted my students, and I could use it as a whole class discussion, or I could leave it in my classroom library and see my students choose to take a closer look. Highly Recommend!

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